Screen printing: Stepping into the unknown…

During the past couple of years I have mostly concentrated on learning intaglio printing techniques, with occasional trials of lino cut and letterpress, however today I started to learn a new technique that falls under the guise of silk screen printing. I have been working from a photography base with much of my imagery over the past few months and there were some images that I just couldn’t seem to explore using any of my tried and tested printmaking methods to date. After seeing some of the drawing and photographic work that was being produced using silk screen methods at the KHiB Graffik department I decide that it might prove to be the technique I could use to capture the essence of my elusive images. The technique that was being used is new as far as I an make out; discovered by ‘Odd’ the print technician here and worked and re-worked before a (mostly) failsafe approach was established. I am still in the very early stages of developing this within my own work, and understand just a little of the process in relation to traditional silk screen methods, but I understand it to be silk screen printmaking with offset screens  and image manipulation in order to create a much smoother and subtler picture from four screens using a CMYK separation system. A lot of the digital preparation and programming went straight over my head to be honest, but once the practical tasks began such as cleaning, preparing and exposing the screens I began to get into the swing of things. It seems to be a process that requires an infinite amount of patience (a good exercise for me) and an open mind for mistakes and alterations to organically manifest, however there is something very reassuring in the methodical action of printing up an image layer by layer. With my first image I started by printing the magenta layer first, then came yellow followed by cyan and finally black to give the image the depth and balance it needed. I encountered similar registration problems as I have with previous intaglio techniques due to the fact that I’ve been working predominantly with circular plates/imagery, however with the screen prints I managed to more or less get them aligned using the acetate registration technique. I felt a growing sense of pride, interspersed with frustrations due to misalignment or inconsistent ink density, but in the end pride won and I am happy to present my first attempt at silk screen printing using Odd Melseth’s (yet unclassified) pioneering technique! You saw it here first!


First screen waiting to go!


 Checking paper alignment and screen tension.


 Prints after the Magenta and Yellow layers.




The finished print.